We’re pleased to introduce blogger Brenda Thompson and her family! Brenda is a self-taught meal planning guru and recipe and content developer who loves sharing ideas to save time and money in the kitchen while still eating well. She shares her ideas on her blog, Meal Planning Magic.
Brenda and Rick Thompson and their kids, a 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. The Thompsons hail from the suburbs of Houston, TX.
Like many families we’ve interviewed, the Thompsons are striving to make family dinner a near-nightly occurrence. Brenda has her sights set on dinners together at least five nights of the week, but also looks to other moments when she can spend time at the table with her kids. “Mornings together are a priority too,” she says. “Even if we’re all leaving at different times on weekday mornings, I try to sit with the kids when they have their breakfast and eat mine too. Sometimes it’s only five to ten minutes but it keeps our lines of communication open.”
Even in the summertime, the Thompson kids are busy — busy enough to keep their parents running between sporting events, volunteering and all the social outings that are common for adolescents. During the school year, things are even more jam-packed as after-school activities demand plenty of space on the family calendar. Working around all the commitments is the biggest challenge the family faces as far as family dinner goes, but since Brenda and Rick both have some flexibility in their work schedules, they always find a way to make it work.
Not surprisingly for someone who helms a blog titled “Meal Planning Magic,” Brenda says that planning and shopping ahead of time are the key to making dinnertime happen in her household. “Dinner might not be at the same time every night,” she shares, “but knowing what we have going on helps me plan accordingly.” Having the plan and ingredients ready to go each night also makes it easier for the Thompsons to cook together, maximizing family time on the evenings when they can manage to get together for a meal.
Brenda adds that she and Rick have always prioritized family dinners from the time their kids were very small, but that she truly believes any family can get started at any time as long as they keep their flexibility and commitment to spending the time together. “With tools from The Family Dinner Project and other resources, it’s something any family can work towards!”
Brenda’s secret weapon for fast dinners is tacos, made with tortillas or flatbreads and an endless variety of fillings and toppings to suit every palate. She says the family even enjoys creative twists such as a Mediterranean variation using falafel. In addition, the Thompsons enjoy fast and fresh meals like this Bruschetta Chicken Skillet, which is perfect for using ripe summer tomatoes.
Brenda says that her biggest learning from connecting with The Family Dinner Project has been the realization that not every family looks the same, so mealtimes will differ as well. “The point is just to get started and connecting with your family weekly!”
The Best Part:
“Family dinners together allow us to catch up on what’s new with each other from that day but also talk about what’s coming up. We love to laugh and tell funny stories at the dinner table and even if dinner together a short part of our whole day, it’s a very memorable part of it!”